Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Super simple Banana Cake

This is a super easy, fail-proof and speedy recipe. You can whip up a cake in no time for breakfast, brunch or tea!

Ingredients: (10 slices)
2 eggs
150 g of cane sugar
150 g of sweet melted butter
3 bananas cut in round shapes + 1 whole
100 g of nuts cut in half and chopped
170 g of flour
1 full teaspoon of baking soda
1 tablespoon of brown sugar

Preheat oven to 200°C
1.) Mix all the ingredients with an electric whip during 4 minutes, leave out the whole banana and the brown sugar
2.) Pour the preparation in the mould.
3.) Cut the whole banana in 3 to 4 slivers lengthwise and place it on the batter.
4.) Sprinkle with brown sugar.
5.) Cook for 70 minutes

Allow to cool for 10 minutes before unmoulding. Serve tepid or cold.

Friday, January 29, 2016

English Apple Cake

Nothing beats a homemade apple cake with chunks of sweet fruit. Try this hearty recipe and surprise your kids with a scrumptious afternoon tea treat when they arrive home after school.

225r self-raising flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
115r unsalted butter, diced and chilled, plus extra for greasing
115r light brown sugar
1 large egg, beaten
6-8 tbsp milk
225r Granny Smith apple, peeled, cored and diced
100gr raisins
2 tbsp brown sugar with some cinnamon (optional)

Heat the oven to 180C.
1.) Grease and line a deep 20cm cake tin with baking paper.
2.) Mix the flour and cinnamon together in a large bowl.
3.) Add the butter and rub into the flour using your fingers, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
4.) Stir in the light brown sugar.
5.) Beat in the egg followed by 6 - 8 tbsp of milk – you want to achieve a smooth, thick batter.
6.) Add the apples and raisins and mix to combine.
7.) Scrape the batter into your prepared tin and gently level out.
8.) Sprinkle over the brown sugar and bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 minutes and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. Best served still warm with a little custard.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Spaghetti & Meatball muffins

How about turning an Italian dish into an American treat that your kids will love? My Neapolitan husband claims the idea of spaghetti and meatballs in itself is an American invention therefore... at this point... anything goes. YEHAY!

Follow this simple recipe for super-cool Spaghetti & Meatball muffins:

170g spaghetti
1½ tablespoon olive oil
1½ cups parmesan cheese, grated
1½ cups tomato based pasta sauce
12 cooked meatballs
½ cup basil, roughly chopped
cooking spray

Preheat oven to 190C.
1.) Cook spaghetti NOT following packet directions, drain when every AL DENTE and allow to cool.
2.) Spray 12 cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
3.) Pour 1 cup cheese into spaghetti pan and toss.
3b) You might wish to add an egg for the nests to better stick together.
4.) Divide spaghetti between the 12 muffin cups, arranging spaghetti to make a nest.
5.) Top each nest with 1 tablespoon of pasta sauce, a meatball, another tablespoon pasta sauce.
6.) Sprinkle each with parmesan cheese.
7.) Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes or until cheese has melted.
8.) Cool slightly before eating, garnish with a chopped basil.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Ham & Cheese Party rolls

Need a fast and impressive looking "aperitivo"? A dish to take along to share? One that your kids can eat as well? Here's the answer.

Ingredients: (Makes: 12 rolls)
1 roll of pizza dough
¾ lb ham (thinly sliced)
12 thinly slices Emmenthaler cheese

Glaze (optional)
½ cup (8 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
1.) Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
2.) Unroll the pizza dough onto a cutting board and press into approximately a 13x18-inch rectangle. 3.) Top with ham and cheese slices.
4.) Starting on the longer side of the rectangle, roll up the edge tightly. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down.
5.) Cut into 12 slices, approximately 1-inch wide. Arrange in prepared baking dish.
6.) Combine the butter, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and poppy seeds in a sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk until the butter is melted and the glaze is smooth and combined. Pour evenly over the rolls.
7.) Bake uncovered for 25 minutes until golden and browned.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Apple & Cinnamon muffins

Can you smell the autumn? Nothing beats the fragrance of brown butter, cinnamon and baked apple. Well, maybe chocolate cake but that's for another day.

1 cup self raising flour
½ cup almond meal
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ginger, ground
½ tsp nutmeg, ground
½ tsp cardamom, ground
140gr unsalted butter, browned
⅓ cup caster sugar
⅓ cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 eggs
1 large apple, grated

Preheat oven to 180°C.
1.) Place the butter in a small saucepan and cook over medium heat until the milk solids start to turn brown on the bottom of the pan and smells nutty. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
2.) In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, almond meal, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cardamom.
3.) In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, maple syrup, eggs and vanilla bean.
4.) Add the cooled brown butter and stir until combined.
5.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until combined.
6.) Fold in the apple.
7.) Spoon the batter into lined muffin cases and bake for 15 minutes or until golden and cooked.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

Searching for an exotic, healthy weeknight supper? Here is your answer. Also a big hit with gluten-free and vegetarian family and friends.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
½ a large jalapeno, minced (taste to make sure it's not too spicy)
3/4 cup quinoa
1 cup vegetable broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (not drained)
1 cup corn
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
Juice of 1 lime
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1.) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat.
2.) Sauté the garlic and jalapeno until it starts to brown, about one minute.
3.) Add the quinoa, vegetable broth, black beans, diced tomatoes, corn, chili powder, cumin, and salt to the skillet and stir to mix well.
4.) Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and cover the pan with the lid.
5.) Cook covered for 20 minutes, until the quinoa is cooked through, but stir it halfway through cooking just to make sure the quinoa cooks evenly.
6.) Before serving, sprinkle the chopped cilantro and diced avocado on top and then squeeze ½ of the lime in as well. Taste and add more lime juice, salt and pepper if needed.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Candy Corn Macaroons

It is not easy to get a hold of Candy Corn in this part of the world but I have found a way to put a French twist to my Candy Corn craving. The macaroons are both festive and delicious, making them the perfect sweet treat for the Halloween celebration.

The recipe sounds more complicated than it is. I have had lots of fun making these with my daughter.

Ingredients for Macaroon:
180g ground almonds, sifted
270g powdered sugar, sifted
150g egg whites, aged 2 to 4 days in the fridge and then brought to room temperature
100g granulated sugar
Yellow food colouring

Ingredients for Vanilla Buttercream:
3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
pinch of sea salt
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Orange food coloring

1.) In a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, sea salt and vanilla. Whip until smooth and light, this takes about 5 minutes. Tint with orange food colouring. Voilà, your buttercream is ready.
2.) Line four heavy baking sheets with good quality parchment paper and set aside. Also, set aside two pastry bags for the piping of the macarons.
3.) Sift together your ground almonds with the powdered sugar and set aside.
4.) Whisk the egg whites (at room temperature) on medium high speed to glossy firm peaks adding the granulated sugar gradually in four parts. You don't want to whip the egg whites too quickly, this should take a good 5 to 7 minutes.
5.) Incorporate the dry ingredients into the beaten egg whites using a large rubber scraper and mix just until everything is combined then stop and divide the batter in half. Tint one half of the batter with yellow colouring.
6.) Fold each of the mixtures with a rubber scraper by pulling down the sides and flipping the mixture over. Do this until you have a smooth mixture that falls like a “ribbon” off the scraper.
7.) Transfer the mixtures into separate piping bags. Use rubber bands to close the piping bags. Clip the tip of the bags, one at a time, and pipe small quarter sized rounds, leaving 1-inch of space between each because they spread as they set.
8.) Leave to set for about 30 minutes or until the top has formed a crust and is not sticky to the touch.

9.) While they are setting, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
10.) Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven for about 12 minutes or until the cookie is firm, matte and doesn't wobble when touched.
11.) Leave on the baking tray until cool then lift them all off the parchment carefully. You may need to use a thin knife to help lift them off.
12.) Sort into pairs and fill with Vanilla Buttercream.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Butternut Risotto

Risotto comes from the Northern part of Italy and is normally a primo (first course), served on its own before the main course, however, it can also be served as a main dish for family dinners. Just remember to use the widest pan you have so the rice forms one layer, this helps it cook evenly.

1 small butternut squash
6 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons unsalted butter or extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups risotto rice
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for topping
Chopped fresh parsley, for topping

1.) Break down the squash
- Cut the stem end off the squash, then use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin.
- Slice in half lengthwise.
- Scoop out the seeds and stringy pulp from one half.
- Reserve the other half for another use.
- Slice the squash lengthwise about 1/2 inch thick, then slice crosswise into 1/2-inch cubes.

2.) Cook the squash
- Bring the stock to a boil in a saucepan, then reduce the heat and keep at a simmer.
- Melt the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat.
- Add the squash; cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly golden, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1/4 cup water and cook until the squash is tender, 10 to 15 more minutes. Use a wooden spoon to partially mash the squash, pressing it against the side of the pan.

3.) Make the risotto
- Stir in the rice and season with salt and pepper.
- Add a ladleful of hot stock to the rice and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
- Continue adding stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding more.
- About halfway through, add more salt and pepper to taste.

The entire cooking process takes about 20 minutes; start tasting for doneness after about 15 minutes. If you've used all of the stock and the rice is not yet al dente, heat a few cups of water and add ladlefuls as you did with the stock until the dish is done. The risotto is done when you can drag the spoon through the center of the pan and make a clean line in the rice for a few seconds. Season with more salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

4.) Serve the risotto
- Transfer to serving bowls or a platter and top with Parmesan and parsley.
- Never leave finished risotto in the pan as it will keep cooking into a mush.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Pumpkin-Cranberry Muffins

These autumn-inspired muffins are perfect for breakfast or brunch. Loaded with dried cranberries, pumpkin, and bright orange flavors, they're extra delicious split and topped with cream cheese or your favorite jam.

1/2 cup dried cranberries
juice from 1 large orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon pumpkin spice blend
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup pure pumpkin puree
1/2 cup whole milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon orange zest
brown sugar, for sprinkling

1.) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin pan with muffin liners and lightly coat with cooking spray.
2.) Combine the cranberries and orange juice in a small saucepan and heat until the orange juice is warm. Set aside to let the cranberries plump, about 5 minutes, then drain off the juice.
3.) Whisk the flour, granulated sugar, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
4.) Whisk together the butter, plumped cranberries, pumpkin puree, milk, eggs and orange zest in a large bowl.
5.) Add the flour-spice mixture to the pumpkin mixture and gently fold the batter together until it is just combined (it's ok if there are a few lumps).
6.) Divide the batter evenly among the prepared muffin cups and sprinkle the top of each muffin generously with the brown sugar.
7.) Bake until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 24 minutes. 8.) Cool the muffins in the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Creamy Tomato soup

After having had our fill of summertime fresh tomato pastas, salsas, and tacos, we find ourselves dreaming of all the warm soups we love in Autumn.

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 chopped red onions
2 carrots, unpeeled and chopped
3 cloves minced garlic
5 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
3 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon sea salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream

1.) Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-low heat.
2.) Add the onions and carrots and sauté for about 10 minutes, until very tender.
3.) Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute.
4.) Add the tomatoes, sugar, tomato paste, basil, chicken stock, salt, and pepper and stir well.
5.) Bring the soup to a boil, lower the heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 30 to 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are very tender.
6.) Add the cream to the soup and strain, or better, process it through a food mill into a bowl, discarding the pulp.
7.) Reheat the soup over low heat just until hot and serve with thinly sliced basil leaves.

Drizzle with a grilled cheese, or garnish with yummy homemade toasted bread.

Monday, August 24, 2015

American Pasta salad

A great recipe for kid's lunch or a light and healthy picnic salad. Nutritious and crunchy, no need to use lots of mayo. Can be stored covered in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

2 cups macaroni, cook and drain
1/3 cup diced celery
1/4 cup minced red onion, soaked in cold water for 5 minutes, drained
1 tablespoon minced flat-leaf parsley
1/2 cup diced vine-ripened tomato (optional)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons cider vinegar
3 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
Freshly ground black pepper

1.) In a large bowl combine the macaroni, celery, onion, parsley and tomato.
2.) In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, mustard, sugar, vinegar, sour cream and salt.
3.) Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine.
4.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Strawberry and Peach Crumble

This is a recipe that hits close to home. As a child I used to eat many a crumble for pudding. Apple, Rhubarb, Gooseberries, Peach or Strawberries. Anything goes and it is so much fun to make the crumble with those little hands.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (about 1/2 large lemon)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound medium strawberries, halved
1 1/2 pounds yellow or white peaches, peeled, pitted and sliced
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter in 1/2-inch cubes

1.)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch glass baking dish. Set aside.
For the filling:
2.) In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and all-purpose flour until smooth.
3.) Add the strawberries, peaches and brown sugar. Gently toss until the fruit is coated.
4.) Pour the fruit mixture into the prepared pan.
For the crumble:
5.) In a bowl combine the flour, oats, almonds, brown sugar, cinnamon, and sea salt.
6.) Add the softened butter and mix by hand until texture becomes crumbly.
7.) Sprinkle the mixture over the filling and bake for 40 to 45 minutes until the filling is bubbling and the top is light golden.
8.) Cool the crumble for 5 minutes.

Spoon the warm crumble into bowls and serve with a dollop of whipped cream or ice cream.